Demystifying Tech Writer and Content Writer’s Roles
When I meet a lot of technology folks, a very basic question they throw at me is- oh! Technical Writer… I am not aware about your profile, what exactly you do? In Agile setup, what you guys will do? We don’t need documentation…. Is your profile similar to that of Content Writer?
Is this the real scenario? Do you also think that both these roles are same? In order to remove this ambiguity in minds of many, through this blog I intend to throw light on Tech Writer and Content Writer’s profile and how they are different from each other?
Both these roles are perceived to be mixed and merged at most of the places. Basically people are confused with the roles, skill sets and responsibilities. Also, they have this myth that just writing good English makes you a good Technical Writer or a Content Writer. I strongly believe that both these roles are different and they require their own unique skill sets.
This is the ninth post of our blogger month at Xebia. Every day one of the Xebian post a new blog. You can follow the full series at http://blog.xebia.in/pages/blogger-month-2015/.
It’s not just writing good English that makes you a Technical writer…
Technical Writers are those who write user documentation by converting technical information and product feature instructions into simple and comprehendible language. They have knowledge of various tools such as FrameMaker, RoboHelp, DITA, Content Management Systems, and Image editing tools which they use for their day-to- day activities. Using such tools, they write User Manuals, Online Help, Installation Guides, Release Notes, and Quick Reference Guides etc. Working in different domains and making users familiar with products is their core job. They work in close association with developers and testers and are part of project teams. Technical Writer possess good and accurate writing skills. Technical Writers are judged by how seemingly a complex process can be documented in an easy to understand document so that even a non- technical person can easily understand it and make use of it to the best extent possible. They follow certain style guidelines and use simple language. Their job also involves playing with the application just like a tester would and consequently garner in depth knowledge of all the features. This helps them to understand business aspect and usage of all the product features and contribute in different areas of project like consistency in UI look and feel, framing errors, warning messages etc.
Technical Writing offerings broadly can cover the following services:
The documentation techniques have also evolved over the years and documents these days are not just limited to the static content model. Various new methodologies are used to create creative, and user interactive documents. The static content management model has taken a new shape, which allows users to interact with author. Various analytics tools are integrated with the online help file to track user access. Based on the analytics data, author understands the user behavior and develops content based on their requirements. This whole process is referred as Reactive writing. Documentation development techniques are expected to evolve further in coming years to offer users a better experience.
For further details on it, please refer my previous blog series- Evolution of Static Content Management Model
Content Writing is basically writing for magazines, websites, and newsletters. In my opinion, Content Writers should possess eye-catching writing skills and a flavor in their writing to engage readers. They basically write marketing articles like white papers, magazine articles, website content, and social media posts. This role is basically associated with marketing team in IT firms or with Media and Publishing companies. They are also involved in blog writing, managing social media pages of Companies, and also in SEO. Their core job is to write the content in such a way that it evinces interest among audience through a pull factor. For product or service based companies, the role of Content Writer is mainly involved in marketing of products.
Note: I will be happy to receive additions/deletions in Content Writer’s section if I have missed anything.
Both these roles require their own set of skills. In short, technical writers are involved in making users familiar with the product, its working and usage. Typically Content Writers are involved at a stage when the product is ready for the market release. There is a very thin line that differentiates these two profiles; both are involved in writing, but the approach, procedures and skill sets are entirely different.
I will cover about different tools used by tech writers in my upcoming blog, till then Stay Tuned….